Food & Agri

02 november 2023

Innovation and Sustainability in Packaging: An Interview with Klaas Hoving of Horizon Natuurvoeding

This article is part of a series of LinkedIn interviews by the Anders Invest Food & Agri team. In this series, we take a look at the people and activities within our portfolio companies. In this interview, we talk to Klaas Hoving, who works at Horizon Natuurvoeding. Horizon produces organic nut butters as well as packaged nuts and dried fruits. These products are sold throughout Europe in organic and specialty food stores under the brands: Horizon, Monki, Jori, and Krekeltje. Horizon is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, and one of the ways they're marking this milestone is by launching a new packaging line.

New Packaging Line

Klaas Hoving has been working at Horizon as a Marketing & Benelux Sales specialist for about 11 years. Horizon is increasingly focusing on product innovations, with the most recent one being the revamped way of packaging organic nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. "With the new packaging line, we ensure that our products are even more visible on the shelves of organic and natural food stores and specialty shops. The nuts, seeds, and dried fruits will be packaged in quadroseal stand-up pouches in IJsselstein, improving their presentation." For Horizon, the new packaging is an improvement, and, as Klaas explains, the customers and retailers who were consulted about the stand-up pouches are very positive about them.

Flexible and Dynamic Product Development

In addition to making Horizon's products look better on the shelves and easier for consumers to find through the stand-up pouches, there are other benefits to the changed packaging line. Klaas mentions that while Horizon already imported and processed nuts, seeds, and fruits themselves, now they've added packaging to their capabilities. "We have more control over the production process, as we can now handle the packaging as well. This makes us much more dynamic and efficient in our product development." Moreover, the stand-up pouches offer opportunities to better serve customers and end-users in different countries. "The entire process, from bulk to the final packaged product, can now be handled by us. This allows us to provide a complete package, and in the long term, we see possibilities to better support our customers. This can also have pricing benefits for customers."

Furthermore, the new line also provided a good reason to examine the packaging materials used and enhance their sustainability. Klaas explains that Horizon has opted for packaging made of 100% polypropylene, which is fully recyclable. The packages are then transported in cardboard boxes and sealed with cardboard tape, which is more sustainable than the plastic tape previously used. This way, Horizon ensures that their values are reflected in every step of the chain – from the final packaging that the consumer sees to the processes the product goes through.

Challenges and Opportunities in Packaging Design

While the flexibility gained by adjusting and taking control of the packaging has been a significant advantage for Horizon, it also required a lot of testing and experimentation. Klaas explains that the main challenge was aligning the product quantity with the size of the packaging. Horizon has been distinguishing itself for years by offering various packaging sizes, he says. Especially in the segment of small packages of organic nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, Horizon is unique: the quantities of 150, 400, and 800 grams are appealing to different target groups. "During the packaging testing, we didn't get the right ratio in one go: sometimes there was too little product in the stand-up pouch and too much packaging, and other times there was too much product. Not to mention fitting and arranging the consumer units in the right outer cartons and the ideal stacking ratio on the pallet. "Jeffrey and Raymon, as operators, are responsible for the packaging line and have worked incredibly hard in the past period. It's great to have dedicated employees with a lot of technical expertise," Klaas says. Ultimately, after several attempts, they succeeded in finding the right proportions for all the products offered in the stand-up pouches.

However, Horizon is far from done with innovating, and it is precisely because of the packaging line that they see new possibilities, both within and outside the Netherlands. "With this packaging line, it's easier to innovate in products: for example, we can now offer mixed packages more easily, with different nuts, seeds, and dried fruits all in one," Klaas continues. "Additionally, we can expand more easily in countries outside the Netherlands. For instance, our Monki brand is already well-known for nut butters in a large part of Europe. In the future, we could introduce stand-up pouches with organic nuts, seeds, and dried fruits under that brand. This way, there's a trusted and beloved brand in those areas with a 'new' product line." Klaas then explains that they're always working on improving products and coming up with new concepts. "We will continue to do so. We are full of new ideas to develop and launch in the coming years. At the same time, Horizon remains timeless and uncompromising. We adhere to our ideals, and this makes us reliable. This personally appeals to me, and we see it reflected in the trust and appreciation we receive from our customers."

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04 june 2024

Food & Agri

Unfolding CSRD This article is part of a series of short blogs by the Food & Agri team at Anders Invest. This article is specifically written for individuals and companies that are interested in or affected by CSRD. In total, 50,000 companies will need to comply with this legislation in the coming years. Additionally, companies who do not need to report will face additional pressure to supply information and data regarding their sustainability performance from B2B customers. Are you involved with a company that will need to comply with the CSRD or needs to generate impact data? Then this article is meant for you. Let’s unfold it’s basic concepts together.   The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a piece of legislation developed by the European Union which passed on January 2023. Starting January 1, 2024, CSRD intends to ensure that large and listed companies will  report and disclose sustainability information in an elaborate and consitent framework in their management reports. It builds upon previous legislation through: an extended scope including a gradual integration of large companies, standardized requirements, assurance requirements, a digital format, and integration into management reports. Given the extensive scale of the directive, it is very likely that most companies are affected by this directive (either directly or indirectly). Let’s put together some basic concepts in this article to unfold CSRD and understand it’s mechanisms. Why did CSRD came into effect? CSRD aims to address climate change, stakeholer salience and governance malpractises. The driving force behind the CSRD is the European Union's ambitious goal, as outlined in the European Green Deal, to become the first climate-neutral continent and achieve a pollution-free environment by 2050. The Green Deal is the overall sustainable growth strategy of the EU. To direct capital to investments that drive sustainable solutions, the EU made an Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth (APFSG) which consists of a set of policy initiatives. To prevent greenwashing and set aligned activities for sustainable investments, the EU taxonomy regulatory framework came into effect in 2020. Basically, CSRD is required to increase transparancy through disclosure of sustainability information, enabling EU taxonomy to work. Overall, CSRD’s goal is not to report for the sake of reporting, but for the sake of transitioning to a green economy with the relevant public information to do so. However, it is difficult to asses how much of the effort will be translated to actual impact. How will CSRD impact the business climate of Europe? Starting in 2025, the first companies need to report on their ESG impacts and opportunities over the year 2024. CSRD compliance is phased in, depending on the type of company. The first report year for the application of the new regulations will be structured as follows: In 2025, companies already subject to the previous non-financial reporting standards, particularly large public-interest entities with more than 500 employees. The subsequent year, 2026, marks the inclusion of other large companies, specifically those with over 250 employees. By 2027, the reporting requirements will extend to include listed Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Finally, in 2029, non-EU companies generating more than €150 million in revenue within the EU will also be required to comply with these reporting standards. Gradually, more than 50.000 companies will need to report a maximum of 11.000 datapoints per year. The European Reporting Advisory Group (who prepared the standard) estimates that the one-off costs are around €287.000 and recurring cost are €319.000 for companies the first companies to start in 2025. For later companies the costs are €146.000 (one-off) and €162.000 (recurring). As you can see, the amount of work and costs involved with the mere compliance, let alone impact, are significant. Next up, what is in the actual report? What will be in the report? Before CSRD, the annual report consisted of a management report, followed by an audit report and financial statements. The sustainability statements are based on the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) and consist of General Information (ESRS-1), General Disclosures (2), Environmental information (ESRS-E), Social Information (ESRS-S), Governance Information (ESRS-G). Thus, CSRD is the piece of legislation as directed by the EU, ESRS are the standards that specify what to report.                List of topical standards: ESRS E1 Climate change ESRS E2 Pollution ESRS E3 Water and Marine Resources ESRS E4 Biodiversity and Ecosystems ESRS E5 resource use and circular economy ESRS S1 Own Workforce ESRS S2 Workers in the value chain ESRS S3 Affected communities ESRS S4 Consumers and end-users ESRS G1 Business Conduct ESRS 1 and 2 serve as a guideline for the general sustainability reporting. The cross-cutting standards define the information to be disclosed about material impacts, risks and opportunities related to sustainability aspects. An understanding of the structure, concepts and general requirements for the preparation and presentation of sustainability information is to be reported. For the topical standards, one is required to conduct a double materiality assesment to map impact, risks and opportunities in relation to the different topics. All topics that are material in the value chain of the company have to be reported and substantiated with data. Accordingly, all topics whose impacts are either materially related to the environment or society (impact materiality, inside-out) or which have a short-, medium- or long-term financial impact on the company and can thus significantly influence the company's development and performance (financial materiality, outside-in) have to be reported. Once all material points are covered, the report will be auditted by an external assurance party. As you may see, it will prove difficult to operationalise this directive and the amount of abbreviations by itself is a real headache. In the next article, we will go in more detail on the impact on the business landscape for Food & Agri and what our strategy involving CSRD is.

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02 may 2024

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